Infertility is a terrible burden for couples. One in ten couples are infertile. There are treatments, of course. And even natural herbal medicines like Volume Pills and Semenax. But how effective are they?
However sophisticated the treatment, however accomplished the surgeon or specialist, perhaps only one couple in three will be rewarded with a baby.
What are these obstacles? What can be done to overcome them? What are the chances of success, and how far can science go – or be allowed to go – to improve those odds?
‘At one time, if a couple were childless, there was very little they could do’, Mary Warnock says in A Question of Life, her book on the Warnock report on human fertilization and embryology.
‘Generally the cause of infertility was thought to be something in the woman which made her childless; rarely was it thought there might be something wrong with the man.’
Today, in up to almost half the cases, it is discovered to be the man who is infertile. He may be more psychologically shattered than his wife, and find his condition much more difficult to accept.
‘Childless women can usually receive consolation from their girlfriends’, one specialist says, ‘but few men even want to discuss their problem. Even if they did, few other men are able to listen and be sympathetic.’
Medical help for women and men is now available through surgery, drug treatment using Volume Pills or Semenax, or one or more forms of in vitro fertilization, from within the National Health Service, and from private clinics.
The most common cause of infertility in women, found in about 30 percent of cases, is damage or disease in the fallopian tubes, the delicate conduits that carry the ripe egg from the ovary to the meeting place for egg and sperm.
Conception cannot occur if the tubes are so blocked, scarred or infected that they sabotage the movement of egg or sperm. Such infections may set in after sexual activity, or following pelvic surgery, appendicitis, miscarriage, abortion or the birth of a previous child. Even after an infection has been cleared, the tubes may be left too damaged to function properly.
In some cases, when the egg is fertilized, it does not move down into the womb as it should, but remains there, leading to ectopic pregnancy.
As many as half the women who suffer an ectopic pregnancy will never conceive again. The egg swells and may burst through the fallopian tube, thus not only destroying one pregnancy but endangering the prospect of another. It can even endanger the woman’s life.
Failure to ovulate, or the inability to ovulate efficiently, is a second major cause of infertility, again representing about 30 percent of cases. Ovulation depends on the complex interplay of the pituitary gland in the brain and hormones in the ovaries, whose delicate balance can be disturbed by a wide range of physical and psychological factors, some of which are still not fully understood.
Other causes of infertility in women include endometriosis, in which deposits of the lining of the uterus form outside the womb; tuberculosis of the womb; scarring or other abnormalities of the womb; hostile mucus in the cervix which destroys sperm; and other abnormalities of the cervix.
Identifying the cause is a difficult and time-devouring process, more so than many women expect. It involves a series of consultations, examinations and tests that may be long and painful, and intervals of weeks or months while individual conditions are observed. Most distressing for some women, the only diagnosis their specialists can finally offer is ‘unexplained infertility’.
Among infertile men, the main problems are low sperm production, defective sperm which may be the wrong size or shape, and sperm with impaired mobility which are unable to move freely after ejaculation.
But even more so than among women, many of the causes of infertility in men are unknown or inexplicable.
However, progress in treating infertile couples has significantly quickened in the last decade and many previously untreatable conditions are now within the skills of specialists. Research in Britain and throughout the world is providing important clues, if not answers; new techniques are constantly being tried, including natural methods using Volume Pills and Semenax.
The result is that for many thousands of childless couples, the dream of a baby is now more likely to be fulfilled.